Market Focus - Environmentalists
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an environmentalist as "an advocate of environmentalism" and as "one concerned about environmental quality, especially of the human environment with respect to the control of pollution." However you define environmentalists, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that gives a political voice to the national environmental and conservation community, cites that there are approximately 10 million to 12 million members of environmental organizations in the United States—the organization's own definition of environmentalist is a dues-paying member of a state-based or national environmental organization. The majority, or about 76 percent, of these members are over 45 years old. As well, 54 percent of these members are women.
The Washington, D.C.-based LCV also breaks down those numbers by geography. The organization has found that 15 percent of the people in the electorate in the Southwest identify themselves as environmentalists; 14 percent do so in the Northwest; and in the Midwest, 11 percent of them self-identify as environmentalists. As well, the majority of environmentalists are Caucasian—approximately 87 percent—and 65 percent have a child under 18 in the household, says the agency.
Myriad of Concerns
Defining what an environmentalist is goes far beyond mere numbers. "It's not easy to pin down exactly what an environmentalist is these days," says Nancy Purcell, strategic development manager for Oakland, Calif.-based Names in the News, a list brokerage and management firm that works with nonprofits. "I think, perhaps, the old view of the environmentalist, when the movement really started with Earth Day 30-some years ago, has certainly evolved, and there are different types of environmentalists based on their entry into the issue."
This, in fact, is a diverse bunch, with many different segments of the population interested in keeping our planet a cleaner place and preserving its resources for myriad reasons. For example, there are recreational environmentalists, says Purcell. These are the campers, outdoorsmen, hikers, bicyclists, as well as fishermen and hunters who are concerned with preserving an unspoiled environment. Purcell says, "If you're a duck hunter, you may be very concerned about things like water preservation, for instance. Or clean water for fly fishing."